I've had four days of pretty smooth sailing post-Thermal Ablation that bombarded my thyroid with radio-waves for almost an hour.
Then I hit some physical "chop." And after 10 more days - well, read on and you'll see.
Note: I include quite a bit of detail here for folks considering the procedure, the kind I wish I’d been able to find on the World Wide Web about the ups and downs. About those downs…
I don’t feel right. Feverish, dizzy, feeble. Haven't for three days now. Argh.
I don’t want to take my temperature. I’m supposed to contact the doctor if there’s fever. I don’t want contact the doctor. He might want me to come in, and I’m six hours away. Plus, it’s Sunday, which is sacred family time. He’ll be irked.
Again, that perverse hope the fever might be Covid instead. Preferable to a complication.
What are the complications? I ignored them before, minimizer that I am. But now I need to know.
Now I go on-line. Not much help.
“Post-RFA fever has not been adequately studied, and only a few cases have been reported. Mild–to-moderate fevers of up to 38.0°C or 38.5°C were recorded. The fever regressed spontaneously within 3 days post-RFA and did not require any additional therapy.”
Well, that’s good news.
Still, there is a chance of rupture. Of infection. Of rarities like Horner’s Disease. One case in 100, or less. I like those odds.
I focus on the good news. I dodged the major complication I didn’t dare think about: vocal cord damage. Not good for someone who wants to start singing again (always on the to-do list).
I step away from the Google search. Tell myself I’m catastrophizing. The mind is powerful, it can create the problems you imagine.
I pivot. I need to keep up the visualizing, the healing meditations, the Tibetan bowls sound baths (my pharmacy is premium You Tube). It makes sense I’d feel weird. I had a big, if non-invasive, procedure, and anesthesia. My body is simply processing.
I feel brave enough to dig up the thermometer. No fever. Instantly, I start to feel better. Chicken or egg? Does it matter?
No fever. Less dizziness. Less heat in neck. Better appetite, though effortful to swallow. A walk on the beach does not lead to a relapse. Am I turning a corner?
Still icing my neck one hour a day, drinking tons of ice water. We don’t have an ice maker built into our down-sized French fridge. It hurts my neck to crack the ice out of the tray, or to cut an apple, so Husband to the rescue. The things we take for granted!
Still no fever, though swallowing still takes some effort. Nodule continues hot. But does it feel smaller? Nah, it’s probably only reduced swelling post-procedure. No shrinkage is foreseen for at least a few weeks. But there’s definitely a shrinkage in worry.
Big challenge now: not to overdo. For another two weeks, no toting heavy objects, no major exercise. I seize it as an excuse to not bike. Too many hills around here.
I dare to start my morning yoga warm-up, figure it’s good to get the blood flowing. Dr. BH said no yoga, but this is really only stretching, and I gentle it.
Throughout the day, I visualize the nodule dissolving. If you don’t buy into all those sports evangelists who proselytize for visualization, check out Dr. Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles. Ever since I discovered the nodule and decided to decide my own healing path, it’s been my Bible.
I hesitate to say “best of all,” but I will: best of all, I’m back to my nightly glass of rosé. The Provençal panacea.
The one-week anniversary of my intervention. Sidebar: the French call a week eight days, two weeks 15 days. They also call the number “80” four-times-twenty (quatre-vingts). A mysterious people.
I think I’ve turned a corner. I feel more like me, I’m less tired, don’t long to escape into my book all day. No fever, though the nodule is still hot. And yes, I really do believe it’s smaller.
However, there’s a new “pain”: the back of my neck is stiff. I tell myself that makes sense, it’s compensatory, from being more active.
Note to self: beware of being you. Do not overdo. That rhymes! Note to self: write that lyric.
On ongoing concern - I’m still woozy and wobbly in the morning. However, could that be the overflowing fruit plate I have for breakfast? Too much glucose? But how to deprive myself of the glorious berries, melon, peaches now in season? Tony Newley – with whom I toured the country for 10 months doing his show, Stop the World - followed Fit For Life. Only fruit before noon. But he’s gone now. Though I doubt Fit For Life was to blame.
I’m status quo. No fever, nodule still a bit hot, swallowing a bit effortful, neck a bit sore. But I’m no worse. Yay!
I continue to ice, inside (ice water) and out (frozen pouch of ratatouille), even though only eight days (aka one week) were required. Always the over-achiever.
I start to unpack after our move down from Paris. We have guests coming in two days. But I don’t overdo. Not even the rosé.
A self-induced setback? “Beware of being you/Do not overdo.’
Start the day feeling pretty good (no fever, nodule smaller and only a bit hot), so I get cocky. Spend two hours unpacking. Carry heavy coats, though only from suitcase to hanger. I focus on using my biceps, back and abs, not my neck. I’m on a roll. I climb the step-ladder, am about to lift a large carton to a top shelf. Whoa - am I nuts? Nothing heavy!
The nodule is hotter. I ice my neck at lunch, even though the icing orders are over. Walk to a coffee date, nodule is hotter still. Damn. Beg off after an hour, go home, ice it. Sound bathe in my Tibetan bowls. Refuse to worry, focus on feeling relief.
Wake feeling good! Yesterday didn’t set me back. Relief, indeed.
Get the results of my blood test Dr. BH ordered. Hormone levels, leucocytes, etc – all values are in normal range, with only one near-miss. Good work, BB! I’m such a good doobie (not the smoke-able kind).
A nervous day.
Yesterday, I carried/lifted more than usual in prep for the first guests in our new apt in Antibes. Hopefully not too much. Wish I could say as much for the rosé at dinner…
This morning I wake with pain in my neck (not referring to husband)(apologies for cheap shot at his expense). Hopefully from sleeping like a rock after the wine. But have woken with a headache three days running. Please, let it be the new mattress, not the nodule.
Spend day walking around sizzling Antibes. By end of lunch, the nodule is hot as the sidewalks. I take to my bed, like a Southern belle, bathe in Tibetan bowl vibrations, meditate/visualize healing and dissolving. Tomorrow, I go to Paris to see Dr. BH. I really don’t want bad news or a lecture.
Wake with new sensations. My neck is itchy. And the middle of my neck is sore. Is this where he inserted the needle? The nodule itself is less tender. Neck still stiff. Bed or Bad Beth overdoing? Nodule still hot. When will this stop? Is the outside heat a factor? Dr BH did not say to stay cool.
But on balance, still feeling better/ok.
But today I travel to Paris. Uncomfortable about going so light, can’t carry a computer or a script to work on or food or water. Normally, I love the 5.5-hour train ride. Today, I tolerate it. Meditate. Move slow. Last day to get in shape for tomorrow.
Everything builds to my 1:30 appointment with Dr. BH.
At first, he has to remind himself who I am (in French). Patient is American, x years old - ah yes, the very large nodule.
He performs an echo (ultrasound). His first words? “Good! Very good!” We are both relieved!
The nodule shows red on the scan, meaning it’s necrotic – ie dead material. Not connected to any of the surrounding tissue, so no way to nourish its growth.
And incredibly, the nodule is already almost 23% smaller. Shrinkage usually takes up to six months. Of course, my chart is illegible. One-two punch of the French handwriting and being a doctor.
Dr BH is happy. Very happy. Perhaps even proud of his good work. I certainly am.
The heat in the nodule is normal since he did blast it with radiowaves for 33 minutes. Bottomline: one more week with no lifting, biking, swimming. He’ll see me again in two months. That will be 230 euros, please (the non-National Health price - but still cheaper than the US for an ultrasound?).
On the train back to Antibes, I gaze out the windows at the rolling green of France and finally feel I can focus more on my future than my present. What are my possible outcomes? Why did I go through all this?
- How much will the nodule shrink? 65-95% is a common range. Though mine was so big (65 ml volume), it may not shrink that much. But still…I feel a challenge coming on, like getting an A. I’m inspired to keep visualizing it dissolving. Who knows the ripple of changes that could cause?
- Will I start feeling more energetic? For months now, a little voice keeps reminding me, “I’m tired.” Has the nodule, and any blockages/imbalances, been the cause?
- Will my headaches decrease, as the nodule shrinks? Have they been blocking blood flow to the brain, or causing weird neck positions.
- Will it affect my weight? I pray I won’t gain any (I was a chubby child) from Hypothyroidism, which slows your metabolism, is a common side-effect – though one that’s usually short-term. But I really can’t afford to lose any either because of the –
- Osteopenia/osteoporosis - will it affect my bones, help absorption of various vitamins and minerals? The body is connected in magical ways.
- Will my yin&yang/feminine&masculine/pushing vs. allowing sides be more equalized? Will I be a more balanced, more successful, happier person? Will I access greater creative expression? Is that too much to ask? Don’t answer that.
I hope this has been useful for you, dear reader. Please post your questions and/or comments. I’m happy to be a Poster Child for thermal ablation (no, I’m not on commission).